Optimising childbirth in croatia – mothers’ perceptions of the best experience and their suggestions for change

Zora Raboteg-Šarić, Andreja Brajša-Žganec, Aida Mujkić

Abstract

Objective – The objectives of the research were to examine women’s childbirth experiences and their suggestions for improvements in care provided during labour and birth.

Methods – The study included 341 women who gave birth in Croatia within the previous five years before taking part in the on-line Babies Born Better survey. This survey was developed during a four-year EU funded project COST Action IS0907. It includes a maximum of twenty questions that relate to women’s sociodemographic characteristics and experiences with maternity care. Content analysis of mothers’ answers to two open-ended questions about their childbirth experiences and proposed changes in maternity care was used in this study.

Results – The age of the respondents ranged from 19 to 46 years old. The most frequently described positive childbirth experiences were related to the birth environment (11.2%), characteristics of medical staff such as their kindness (10.4%), general quality (6.8%), support and understanding (6.3%) and expertise (5.6%) as well as to the general quality of care (8.3%). The contact with babies (7.9%) and support for breastfeeding (7.6%) were also stressed as positive experiences. The most frequently mentioned changes needed to improve maternity care included objective characteristics of the birth environment (16.5%), facilitation of natural childbirth, avoidance of invasive procedures and mothers’ control of labour (13.8%), and provision of support and understanding (9%).

Conclusions – The childbirth experience is a multidimensional concept that includes various positive and negative events. The findings from this study will enhance our understanding of factors that contribute to a positive experience of childbirth.

Keywords

Childbirth; Health care quality; Croatia.

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